Contrary to popular Pinoy opinion, holding your baby on your lap while riding a car does not guarantee his safety. And, if this recent bill gets approved, it will be against the law to do so.
The House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Transportation recently approved a bill entitled "Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2017." It requires all private vehicles to install car seats for children while in transit on any road, street, or the highway. Drivers of private cars must secure any child under 12 years of age via a child restraint system.
If enacted into law, children under 12 years old will be prohibited from occupying the front seat, and kids must always be accompanied by an adult in a vehicle. The bill also mandates the Department of Trade and Industry to test and certify safe child safety car seats based on United Nations' regulations.
In the U.S., child car seat use has been mandatory. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released an updated guidelines in July this year. It covers everything from choosing, installation, and other helpful tips. Here are some of the most basic but important points to keep in mind:
1. All babies should be in a rear-facing car seat until they reach 2 years old or until they have reached weight and height recommendation of their car seat manufacturer.
2. Toddlers or preschoolers should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness when they've outgrown their rear-facing car seat's height and weight recommendation.
3. Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat should use belt-positioning booster seats until they reached 4 feet and 9 inches in height, which would be around age 12.
4. When kids are tall enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. Children under age 13 should always stay in the back seat.
5.The safest place for a child in a car is the middle back seat. If possible, install the child car seat in the middle of the back seat. However, some car seats don't allow this, so make sure to follow the installation guidelines of the manufacturer.
6. Seat belt positioners or products that claim to help make the seat belt fit better should not be used. They may actually interfere with proper seat belt fit and can even damage the seat belt.
7. Add-on products on a car seat should not be used unless they came with the seat or are specifically approved by the seat manufacturer. Using a child car safety seat properly should be enough to secure your child.
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8. Each child car safety car seat is different, but make sure you install it correctly. Give yourself sufficient time to learn how to properly install the seat in your car, ideally before your baby is born.
9.The best seat is the one that fits your child's size, is correctly installed, fits well in your vehicle, and is used properly every time you drive. Price alone should not dictate your car seat purchase.
10. Look for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). It's a standardized car safety seat attachment system that will simplify car safety seat installation and enhance safety.
11. Try to avoid second-hand or used seats if you don't know its history. Older car seat models might not adhere to the current safety standards or might have been recalled by the manufacturer.
12. When buying second-hand or used car seats, check the label for date of manufacture if it's too old or has been recalled and make sure it still has its instruction manual. Check for missing parts or visible cracks and if it had been in a car crash.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported that among children under age 17, road crashes are the second leading cause of death. According to the World Health Organization(WHO), a rear-facing child car seat can reduce injury by 80 percent for children ages 0 to 4, compared to a seat belt that reduced injury by only 32 percent.
Car seats don't come cheap, but it's an investment for your child's health and safety.